Josh Toombes and the Tipperary ten at Cabragh Wetlands

Long before Pope Francis made his recent universal appeal to all people of good-will to be “Protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment”, Josh Toombes from Traherne Gardens, Lisburn, Co. Antrim was doing his bit for the environment and preserving a precious strain of peas.

Long before Pope Francis made his recent universal appeal to all people of good-will to be “Protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment”, Josh Toombes from Traherne Gardens, Lisburn, Co. Antrim was doing his bit for the environment and preserving a precious strain of peas.

In 2008 he wrote to the Irish Seed Savers Association in Scariff, Co Clare saying that as he was 79 years old he wished to share with other gardeners his purple–pod peas that had been grown and preserved by his parents and grandparents for over a century. The peas have been grown and preserved by The Irish Seed Savers since then and they are now known as “Josh Toombes Purple-Pod Peas”. At the recent celebration of Summers arrival in Cabragh Wetlands, 10 packets of these precious peas were distributed to local gardeners and some had also been given to the Rev. Ian Cruickshank, who had ministered to the KIlcooley group of parishes and was taking on a new parish in Ballygawley, Co. Tyrone.

On Friday the 19th April last the Tipperary Environmental Network (TEN) was launched at the LIT Tipperary Institute in Thurles. Michael Long in outlining some of the foundational philosophy that has been developed at Cabragh Wetlands reminded us that we are a fragile planet floating in space and that it’s not possible to have infinite growth on a finite planet; neither is it possible to have healthy people on a sick planet. It works because it all works together. The invited speaker on the night, Fr Sean McDonagh, was born in Nenagh. Sean’s love for his local place with all its natural beauty, heritage and folklore was passed on to him by a teacher Padraigh O’Meara on their many Saturday cycling tours of the Nenagh countryside. Working as a missionary priest in the Phillipines he rediscovered his vocation as an ecological activist when he saw at first hand the terrible destruction of native forests where nothing was left alive. Sean told us that a doubling of greenhouse gases will lead to catastrophe for the poorer population living along the equator. The Oklahoma tornado and the current fodder crisis are further signs of a climate in disarray. In order to avoid becoming depressed we need to take small steps together in the right direction and organize meaningful celebrations that will generate a clarity of vision, hope in our hearts and faith in a future that is infinite. Group discussions that followed the above threw up a lot of practical suggestions and will be discussed at future meetings.

Rediscovering local wisdom and culture in all its forms especially agriculture and horticulture has been one of the theme songs at Cabragh Wetlands. Happily many schools and a growing number of local gardeners now believe in the grow-your-own philosophy and share their knowledge through courses and working together at the allotments. For anyone wishing to be part of the network please contact tipperaryenvironmentalnetwork@gmail.com or for comments on above to <mattpurcell1@eircom.net> All are invited to attend a talk by Kieran Hickey, of Cahir, on Recent Weather Extremes in Ireland and their links to Climate Change at Cabragh Wetlands on Wed. 5th June at 8:00 pm.